Paul Wolfowitz says he’s sorry, which is a good first step. A good second step would be resigning. He’s not six years old and the World Bank isn’t kindergarden playtime. I’m sure he is sorry. Still, “should you engage in corruption on behalf of your girlfriend while leading an international anti-corruption campaign?” isn’t one of the world’s more difficult questions. There are plenty of other people out there who could do the job and it would send a good message to get rid of him.
The single least-controversial thing you can say about foreign aid and third-world development, is that it’s really, really helpful for the developing nation you’re trying to help out to become less corrupt. Since the World Bank is supposed to boost third-world development, one important focus of its mission must be improving developing world governance. Thus, it’s a really bad idea for the head of the World Bank to be caught ordering his subordinates to give his girlfriend a $50k / year raise and then get away with it.
I was considering writing a sentence here that began “if the Bush administration cares at all about . . . ” but that’s obviously a non-starter. The question is what leverage to congressional Democrats have that might help shove Wolfowitz out the door.
Last month, Bush’s Special Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan Andrew Natsios told a group of Georgetown students that the “term genocide is counter to the facts of what is really occurring in Darfur.”
In a testy exchange with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing yesterday, Natsios defiantly refused to characterize the ongoing violence in Darfur as a genocide.
MENENDEZ: Do you consider the ongoing situation in Darfur a genocide, yes or no? [...]
NATSIOS: There is very little violence in Darfur right now.
MENENDEZ: I asked you to answer my question.
NATSIOS: I just answered your question.
MENENDEZ: Is the circumstances in Darfur today a continuing genocide? Yes or no?
NATSIOS: There is very little fighting between rebels and the government and very few civilian casualties going on in Darfur right now.
A recent Oxfam report on Sudan stated that “today the situation is as desperate as ever,” as “in the first two months of 2007, more than 80,000 more people fled the ongoing violence.” “The ongoing violence in Sudan’s Darfur region continued to rise” as peacekeepers were fatally attacked in North Darfur just this week.
Furthermore, the violence is increasingly dispersing. The U.N. reported yesterday that “in latest sign that violence plaguing Darfur is spilling into neighboring Chad,” between 200 and 400 Chadians were feared dead in an “unusally brutal attack” last month. “What is happening in Chad has Darfur as its epicenter,” said a U.N. spokesman. “We’ve been warning this for months.”
Natsios’s comments are part of a sad effort by the Bush administration to declare victory in the midst of an ongoing slaughter.
To learn what can you do about the situation in Darfur, visit the Enough Project.
Transcript: Read more
See Beutler and Klein for some critiques of Brooks on McCain. Let me add my own. Brooks writes that McCain thinks “he has an obligation to seek victory as long as there is any chance of it.” One hears this sort of thing now and again, and it’s worth pointing out that it involves a pretty perverse moral calculus. If we should prefer any option that holds out any chance of “victory,” no matter how high the price of that option or how small the odds of success, then the McCain doctrine must hold that the costs of defeat in Iraq are literally infinite.
That, of course, is absurd. Nations sometimes really do find themselves in wars where their survival qua nation is imperiled. They also sometimes find themselves in situations where the price of defeat will be the literal eradication of the population. Iraq, however, is not anything like either of those cases. What’s more, it so obviously doesn’t fit either of those models that one gets the sense that McCain, “the candidate who is the most substantive, most mature and most consistent,” hasn’t genuinely given any thought whatsoever to the strategic stakes in Iraq or the nature and purpose of America’s overall policy in the region.
Laura Rozen went to the Middle East to investigate reports of covert Israeli operations in Kurdistan and found something a bit different:
Instead of Michaels being part of a covert operation to set up anti-Iranian proxies in Kurdish Iraq, I discovered that Michaels and his associates were part of an effort by the Kurds and their allies to lobby the West for greater power in Iraq, and greater clout in Washington, and at the same time, by a group of Israeli ex security officials to rekindle good relations with their historical allies the Kurds through joint infrastructure, economic development, and security projects. It was, in other words, a story about influence-building, buying, and profit, albeit with subplots that were equal parts John le Carre and Keystone Kops, and a cast of characters ranging from ex-Mossad head Yatom to a former German superspy, with Israeli counterterrorism commandos, Kurdish political dynasties, powerful American lobbyists, Turkish business tycoons thrown in—not to mention millions of dollars stashed in Swiss bank accounts.
Read the whole thing.
The thing about a bomb attack on the Iraqi parliament is that it’s really hard to see how you conduct on operation like that inside the Green Zone without it being the proverbial inside job. The insurgents also destroyed a bridge and I believe Spencer has thoughts on the significance of this (it relates to the fact that there simply aren’t many bridges across the Tigris) so I’m awaiting updates in his cyberspace.
Two different attacks both of which indicate a qualitative leap in insurgent capabilities or intentions over what we’ve seen over the past four years of combat does not, to me, suggest an insurgency that’s in its last throes or a “surge” that just needs more time to succeed.
UPDATE: Here’s your Ackerlink — check it out.
Following his speech on Iraq yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) held a conference call with conservative bloggers.
One blogger, Ed Morrissey, asked about efforts by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to oppose the new U.S. Baghdad security plan. According to two reports of the call, McCain repeated his prediction that Sadr wouldn’t end up opposing U.S. forces, but admitted he may be “digging for the pony.”
I asked the Senator whether Moqtada al-Sadr’s new orders for the Mahdi Army to attack American forces could cause a collapse of the Maliki government. McCain thinks Sadr is mostly bluffing; he waited too long and has not made a personal appearance for too long, and a defeat at the hands of the American and Iraqi forces would finish him. Joking that he was “digging for the pony here,” he predicted that Sadr would back down as he has in the past rather than take that big of a gamble.
Ed also asks about al-Sadr fighting back against the surge. McCain said that he’s heard that before, but it never happened. Says it’s interesting that demonstrations that took place in Najaf yesterday were peaceful. While they wanted us out, it’s a good sign that they demonstrate peacefully.
As to Sadr, McCain says he’s in a bit of a “tenuous situation” because people are tired of executions and killings. Saying a good sign is a big reduction in the number of bodies on the streets of Bagdhad every day. Still not good.
Says he may be “digging for the pony”, but doesn’t think al-Sadr would make good on threats because if he loses, then he’s “finished”. Shouldn’t want “all or nothing” with US, and that Iraqi military is getting stronger.
As ThinkProgress documented, McCain wrote in an op-ed on Sunday that “al-Sadr is in hiding, his followers are not contesting American forces.” The very next day, Sadr released a statement urging Iraqis to consider the U.S. their “archenemy” and to “turn all their efforts on American forces.”
Sadr called a rally on Tuesday where “hundreds of thousands of Shia protesters…burned and trampled on US flags in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf.” On Saturday, Reuters reported, “Iraqi and U.S. forces clashed with Shi’ite militia loyal to the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr…in a dawn operation aimed at returning the volatile city of Diwaniya to government control.”
All aboard the Pony Express!
This is a really fascinating account of newly surfaced paperwork about Iraqi civilians’ claims against the US military and how those claims were handled. For example, “in 2005, an American soldier in a dangerous Sunni Arab area south of Baghdad killed a boy after mistaking his book bag for a bomb satchel. The Army paid the boy’s uncle $500.” A total of $32 million has been paid out to Iraqi and Afghan civilians, though the process for determining who gets what seems highly arbitrary. And, of course, getting $500 because some foreigners decided to shoot and kill your nephew for the crime of carrying a book bag seems about as likely to prompt you to give money to the insurgency as it is to convince you that the Americans are your friends.